Unearthing the historical contributions of Black Britons in the biological sciences
In a step towards decolonising science, I have recently launched the Black British Biology Project which aims to create an open access repository of biographies with the historic contributions of Black Britons. All too often Black and other people of colour don’t receive credit for their work. This was almost the case with John Edmonstone (pictured above). Edmonstone was a former slave from British Guiana who came to Edinburgh and taught young Charles Darwin the art of taxidermy. Edmonstone learnt these skills from a friend of his master, Charles Waterton, an English naturalist working in South America. Despite Darwin using those skills in his voyages, he never formally acknowledged the tuition he had received from Edmonstone.
You can read more about Edmonstone and the project in my British Ecological Society’s Niche magazine article.